You’ll never guess how it got there…
On February 7, the Lake Superior National Marine Conservation Area in Ontario, Canada posted on its Facebook page about a vexing automotive mystery. While exploring the Nipigon Lagoon last summer, a team discovered a classic car underwater. The organization had no idea what kind of vehicle it was or why it was there, mainly because all the badges had fallen off, so it took to social media for help.
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It wasn’t too long before enthusiasts pinpointed exactly what the wagon in the murky photos was: a 1957 Chevrolet 210 station wagon. Being such a popular, iconic model made it pretty easy to identify, so that part of the mystery was solved in short order.
Then it came out that other divers not only had already discovered the ’57 Chevy but other vehicles sunken in the lagoon. Of course, a lot of people will immediately think a grouping of cars underwater surely means insurance fraud or that they were all stolen and dumped after they were used to commit other crimes. But the real reason is far more interesting.
Back in the day, the volunteer fire department for Nipigon found a creative way to raise funds. They would take an old car thought to be essentially worthless and put it on the ice formed over the lagoon. People would then buy a lottery ticket indicating when you thought the vehicle would fall through the ice. Whoever was closest to the time and date the car fell through into the water would win.
Lest you think this practice was completely irresponsible, it’s reported the volunteer firefighters attached a top to the vehicles before putting them on the ice. That allowed them to winch the cars out after they fell into the lagoon. However, a few of the vehicles flipped upside down, making them impossible to pull out, so they stayed in the water.
However, the ’57 Chevy wagon is on its wheels, so why did it stay in the water? Divers found the rope attached to the front of the classic car was wrapped around a tree stump underwater. That meant the winch couldn’t pull it out, so it had to be left in its watery grave.
Now there’s an argument about whether the classic car and the other vehicles should be pulled out of the lagoon. Some think the rides are worth saving, but from what we’ve seen of cars which have sat underwater for years on end, there probably won’t be much left of them. What’s more, extracting the vehicles could disturb the fish and turtle habitats, doing more harm than if they were just left where they are.